LG Optimus GT540 Review: Software

With the hardware review of the LG Optimus GT540 done, it’s time to take a look at the software on the Optimus

The LG Optimus runs the Android v1.6 OS. Wait a minute did I say 1.6? yeah I did! Why 1.6? Well I don’t know why did LG arm this rather good device such an archaic version of the OS. This is a factor that will hurt the sales as the Samsung Galaxy 3 & 5 have Eclair running on them. In fact this version of the OS relegates to the level of the Indian manufacturers’ offerings. Certainly LG above them. I, however, hope that there is an update hiding in the works.

Being a resistive screen device, the top status bar, which houses the notifications and more, is absolutely hard to get a hold of. I found this to be quite an irritating factor and was quite put off with it.

The homescreen on the LG, is bland at best. With hardly any custom UI layer, the plain vanilla is anything but cool. LG could have definitely ported some of their S Class homescreen UI onto the Optimus, it would have really helped the Android OS a lot.

On the flipside, the LG Optimus we got, came with a lot of apps pre-installed, and the best part – all of these apps are which one needs and are not available by default in Android. I’m referring to the Advanced Task Killer and many more such apps. This is a great move by LG and certainly going to pamper the Optimus user.

Cool Iris implementation of the Android OS makes the gallery on the LG Optimus stand out and look pretty. This is one aspect where the Optimus simply blows other non-Android phones out of the water!

One thing that put me off the Android was the lack of support to anything but @gmail.com email ids. If I have a non @gmail.com id but a Google Apps email id, shouldn’t it have been supported? Bad dog! no donut for you!

The lack of an equalizer is bothering and begs one to wonder why is it not there??? Though Android has not given this feature, why wasn’t it made available by LG? A mid range phone like the Optimus should have had this by default. If an 8k phone has it, why doesn’t the LG? Another aspect which I found rather disturbing was the size of the font displaying the time, it’s SMALL! I felt I was being punished by LG for doing something.

DivX playback out of the box is like godsend! I can’t help but applaud LG for integrating this feature into the Android Optimus. It’s a game changer at this price point. Though the UI seriously needs work, the video player UI is not at all responsive and this seems to be an Android 1.6 problem and not an LG one.

The camera app on the Optimus is pretty decent and the feature set is very good. Now if only the Optimus had a flash!

Google Maps is an amazing app to have and it can be quite a challenge to tackle, but fortunately in the mobile space we have Ovi Maps, which is a potent competitor. Google Maps allows web synchronization, which means that you select and save points on the PC version of the map and when you fire up the maps on the phone, it’s all there.

But given the online nature of Google’s services, one needs an unlimited plan to do all of this.

The video editor on the Optimus was a nice touch and reminded me of the LG BL40.  The Social Networking Sites integration is very basic at best. This is the reality across manufacturers and LG is no different. A missed opportunity for LG to showcase how ‘advanced’ the Optimus could have been.

The onscreen QWERTY keypad is quite cramped mainly due to the small screen. Had this been a physical keypad, the story would have been the opposite.

Moving onto the web browser, it’s slow. I had the Dell Streak with me during the same time and having tested the browsers on both, I found that it took a considerable amount of time for a page to load on the Optimus. The browser on the Optimus definitely needs tweaking.

The calendar on the Optimus allows for Google calendar syncing, which can be described in one word – wOOt! (Like you didn’t know Google calendar)

The Gmail client on the Optimus was good and the ability to view HTML by default was welcome and overall the experience was consistent with the web experience, given the contraints of a small screen.

The apps on the Optimus which you download and install gets listed separately, which is a nice way for you to know what’s a part of the box and what’s not. Good thing to have.

Weather widget is probably the only widget that I liked a lot.

Given all of this I’d give the Optimus a 7/10. The Android based device seemed quite capable of upping it to 8-9 had they done a couple of things – use the latest Android version & 2nd add features that Android does not have natively.

Whilst all this was being tested, we also had a chance to see how good or bad the Optmius fared when it  came to battery life. Turns out that the Optimus has a rather good battery life. Heavy Users should be able to pull a bit more than a day… but not a day and a half. Going by how Android device battery life usually is, this is rather good.  I’m sure Eclair or Froyo could bump the timings more, let’s hope something happens.

No phone review can be considered over until we’ve tested how good is it. The LG Optimus’s voice clarity is decent, there wasn’t anything different in it, but at the same time LG devices are know to make devices